East Street was unusually busy that early September evening in 1890. It was after twilight, but laborer were drifting down toward the East Tennessee, Virginia & Georgia Railroad depot. From sheds near the square came the rattle of harness and the rumble of heavy wagons. The city police force was present, under the leadership of Chief P. S. Williams; some of the men in the gathering crowd had been sworn in as special deputies. As the work gangs lit bonfires on either side of the tracks, the railroad men could have no doubt: Mayor Skaggs had launched an invasion of their right-of-way. Soon telegraph keys were clacking, alerting company officials in Selma, summoning lawyers.
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